10 user 19 critic

Born in Flames (1983)

Set ten years after the most peaceful revolution in United States history, a revolution in which a socialist government gains power, this films presents a dystopia in which the issues of ... See full summary »


Lizzie Borden


Lizzie Borden (screenplay), Ed Bowes (story)

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2 wins. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Honey Honey ... Honey
Adele Bertei Adele Bertei ... Isabel
Jean Satterfield Jean Satterfield ... Adelaide Norris
Florynce Kennedy Florynce Kennedy ... Zella (as Flo Kennedy)
Becky Johnston Becky Johnston ... Newspaper Editor
Pat Murphy Pat Murphy ... Newspaper Editor
Kathryn Bigelow ... Newspaper Editor
Hillary Hurst Hillary Hurst ... Leader of Women's Army Hillary Hurst
Sheila McLaughlin Sheila McLaughlin ... Other Leader
Marty Pottenger Marty Pottenger ... Other Leader / Woman at Site
Lynne Jones Lynne Jones ... Other Leader
Ron Vawter ... FBI Agent
John Coplans John Coplans ... Chief
John Rudolph John Rudolph ... TV Newscaster
Warner Schreiner Warner Schreiner ... TV Newscaster


Set ten years after the most peaceful revolution in United States history, a revolution in which a socialist government gains power, this films presents a dystopia in which the issues of many progressive groups - minorities, liberals, gay rights organizations, feminists - are ostensibly dealt with by the government, and yet there are still problems with jobs, with gender issues, with governmental preference and violence. In New York City, in this future time, a group of women decide to organize and mobilize, to take the revolution farther than any man - and many women - ever imagined in their lifetimes. Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

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Comedy | Drama | Sci-Fi


Not Rated | See all certifications »





English | French

Release Date:

3 November 1983 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Född i flammor See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Near the end of the film, the beginning of a TV news broadcast is abruptly interrupted by a message from the Women's Army. The opening animation for the news broadcast was the one used for New York TV station WNEW-TV (now WNYW), channel 5. See more »


Woman at Induction: Why we call it army? I thought army was for the men.
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Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Written and Performed by Jimi Hendrix
(played during Radio Regazza broadcast)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Rage Against the Patriarchal Capitalist Machine!!!!
24 February 2018 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

There is so much to unpack about Born in Flames after a first viewing (much belated I must say, I feel regret this wasn't there or I didn't find it when I was younger), but the first thing that comes to mind about it is television and media. Where do all of these "issues" - I put that word in quotes for almost ironic purposes, as worker's rights" equality for women, equality for *black women*, homosexuals and other women who have been made to become second class citizens as their quasi-original sin based on their gender and/or who they were born to in society - intersect and become amplified, or have the chance to? You gotta be on television, dummy! Borden's use of TV as this dangerous, insidious medium, where the great damage is really/often by these men (and sometimes bourgeois white women) in their glasses and suits seeming to have authority when dismissing attitudes and just ideas of the other, is staggering. I think this, even more than the title song, is the glue and spine of how this all can stick together.

I say stick since this is, really, experimental and punk rock cinema at its fiercest and dirtiest. Borden at first gives this the appearance of a documentary - Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker turn up in the credits, though the latter I think was a special thanks it shouldn't be underestimated his influence here - but it is not quite that. Sure, that is blood flowing through this stylistically, but there are many scenes shot and meant to be scripted with actors as well. Then you throw in archival footage of demonstrations and other things - actual marches, police beatings and rages against the system, from what appears to be the past ten years - and it takes on a shape that is all its own. It's like if you had dropped Peter Watkins in the lower East side, and he hadn't been born Peter but, well, a woman, and one who understands her place is total shit in society.

Is it messy as all get out? Could any bits be cut? Im sure if I saw it again id find a place or two. Would I dare tell her where? Not a chance. This has the energy of revolutionary cinema, and I dont mean that more polished but didactic kind one may have seen from Godard in the 60s, albeit that sense of ambition is there. This has a big cast of characters, from the black section of the women's army to the (white, middle class seeming, including Kathryn Bigelow?!) journalists trying to meet the women halfway, to the agents hounding the women on their trail (these scenes carry the kind of authenticity that made me think of how the FBI also infiltrated and tried to put the kabosh on the Black Panthers, which was also full of women), and the women in the pirate radio stations giving fuel to the fire on the streets and so on. Sprinkled in are vignettes showing right at street level women being oppressed economically and with their bodies. Early on the first action taken by the womens group is to bicycle around to police attacks when no one else will. And then, well, the guns become a necessary evil for them.

Is there some wish fulfillment and flights of fantasy? I'm sure there are. At the same time everything is of the same piece which is Borden saying: there is already economic suffering for everyone, but if you don't come to our help, there cant be equality in a country - regardless of if this post "liberation" as this is meant to be set ten years after (I thought of Hunger Games, except Born in Flames would eat that dystopia for lunch) - whether it is construction workers or sex workers or a waitress or whomever. And Borden goes goes the extra provocative step of... Violence is not something preferable but, well, what else is there to do if you men wont stay by our sides in the fight against the corporations?

One might say that this isn't as relevant anymore; the women's marches last and this year were full of men not only supportive but possibly empathetic to the struggle which is constant in an America that values wealth and whiteness and the MALEness and all that horseshit bag of chips (just look at the president). With the exception of the last scene, which hasn't aged well for what will be obvious reasons to anyone who's been alive since this film came out, it actually is even more relevant than ever. When a piece of science fiction satire about the falsehoods and depravity and decay of society is made it's about when it is written - 1984 is about the 1948 Orwell was in, Huxley in 1932 with Brave New World, many of Dick's works, Hunger Games too to a lessor extent - and Born in Flames is Borden looking at Americans in the time of that "New" America of Reagan saying "no, things aren't right, things are really worse despite the women's movement that did little, and if you don't see the class issue above all else then you'll never come to see through our eyes."

In other words, any of the technical amateurism here (acting too, though theres more good and natural performing than not, especially from the black actors) is all not of concern when substantively this is one of the richest works of volcanic-hot, Pompeii-the-Earth satire that has existed from an American filmmaker.

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